PORT OF SPAIN – Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Social and Welfare Association (TTPSSWA) Inspector Michael Seales was yesterday suspended from duty for “serious misconduct”.
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams ordered the suspension as a result of statements made by Seales during a live television interview on the Caribbean Communications Network’s Morning Edition programme on TV6 on Wednesday morning.
During the interview with the programme’s host Fazeer Mohammed, Seales claimed the Government was using the current wage negotiations with the Police Service to frustrate officers and force them to react so there will be a reason to call a state of emergency and delay the general election scheduled for September 7.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Deodath Dulalchan has been appointed to conduct an investigation into Seales’ conduct, a release from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service’s Public Affairs Unit stated yesterday.
Head of the TTPSSWA Insp Anand Ramesar yesterday described the action taken against Seales as “too harsh” and questioned the timing of the suspension.
The entire TTPSSWA is in full support of Seales and its executive will meet to discuss the situation, Ramesar said.
“We do not agree that the particular comment warranted that particular action. We do not feel that it falls in the category of gross misconduct,” Ramesar said.
“We are a bit disappointed that there was no communication to the office of the Association from the Commissioner’s office on the particular issue before such action was taken.
“So in the first instance not only are we disappointed we find that the action to be premature. We will be meeting as an executive to discuss this matter and we are looking at it in the broadest possible scope,” he said.
Ramesar said the timing of Seales’ suspension was “passing strange”.
“We are looking at it in the context of salary negotiations because for us it is passing strange one that on the very day that we are alerted that our matter has been sent to the Industrial Court the secretary receives a letter of suspension and both actions are coming on the heels of a move by the Commissioner of Police to purchase the vacation leave of police officers one which on behalf of the membership the association is vigorously challenging so for us we find the timing of this particular action, the manner in which it was done is one that warrants an executive meeting and from the meeting we will determine how we will move forward,” he said.
“One thing we are sure is that Mr Seales has the full support of the executive and the calls coming from the membership is that one, he has their full support and they themselves have a lot of questions which we hope will be answered in the near future as it relates to the suspension of Mr Seales,” Ramesar said.
Contacted yesterday Seales confirmed his suspension but opted not to say any more on the matter.
“I can confirm that I have been suspended and the president of the association is alerted and we will see how it goes from there,” Seales said.
Seales has not been suspended from the TTPSSWA and remains a spokesman for the association, Ramesar said.
National Security Minister Ret Brig Carl Alfonso yesterday said if the comments made on the Morning Edition programme attributed to Seales are correct then he [Seales] was “reckless and irresponsible”.
“His boss is the Commissioner of Police and if he wants to suspend any member of the Police Service that is his right to do so,” Alfonso said.
“If there is any truth in that allegation then his boss, the Commissioner of Police, certainly has a right to take some form of action . I think those statements made by Insp Seales, if they are to be believed, to be reckless and irresponsible,” he said.
Director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) David West said because Williams has taken action in the situation the PCA does not need to act.
“There is no need to investigate if the CoP has taken action,” West said in a text message yesterday.
Former national security minister Gary Griffith, the spokesman for the Alliance of Independents on security matters, yesterday commended Williams on his move to “discipline” Seales.
“One of the roles of the Police Service is to ensure a sense of calm and stability among the population, considering that a representative of this body, can allude that he has intelligence that a state of emergency can be pending as an attempt to stall a constitutional general election has done just the opposite to that role of maintaining order, and hence this statement must be condemned at the highest level, and the person who made such a dangerous allegation, which equates to a sitting Government attempting to affect our democracy, must immediately submit any shred of evidence to justify this allegation,” Griffith stated.